Salar Seifoddini told the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations that the Russians are indeed controlling the Karabakh region.
Referring to the opposition of some political parties and groups in the Republic of Azerbaijan to the trilateral ceasefire agreement signed on 10 November 2020 by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, he said political and party rivals of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev are trying to prevent this success from turning into a tool for the future elections.
He pointed out that the next presidential elections in the Republic of Azerbaijan are approaching, saying that the ruling party is going to benefit from the current developments in Karabakh in the next elections in favour of President Aliyev.
“However President Aliyev had promised to liberate all the Karabakh regions but he has failed to fulfil his promise properly. The conflict zone had two layers: one layer with an area of 4,4000 square kilometres which is called the Nagorno Karabakh and was an autonomous region during the Soviet rule under its supervision and seven other regions in the periphery of Karabakh which were not part of Karabakh during the Soviet rule. They were in fact provinces and cities of the Socialist Republic of Soviet Azerbaijan which were located in that region,” he said, adding that these regions were taken from the Armenian part of Karabakh in the 1990s conflict.
Seifoddini added that now all those seven regions have been returned to the government of Azerbaijan control but the issue of Nagorno Karabakh remains unresolved. In fact, only some parts of the Nagorno Karabakh in the Hadrud and Susi areas have been taken under the control of Azerbaijan. Of course, there is doubt about the Susi region because there is no communication road to send equipment or forces to Susi while its legal status in future remains unclear.
The Karabakh control by Russians, the main problem of Aliyev
Referring to the presence of Russian military forces in these regions, he said the Russians are indeed controlling the Karabakh region and this is a big problem for Azerbaijan and Ilham Aliyev.
“There are criticisms against Aliyev as he had promised to retain control of all those regions which belonged to Azerbaijan. Now in Stepanakert the former capital centre of Nagorno Karabakh, we see Russians are in control and the Russian flag is hoisting in these areas.”
Explaining other reasons behind the opposition of some political parties and figures in Azerbaijan with the ceasefire agreement, he said the Army of Azerbaijan and its forces had advanced to some kilometres away from Stepanakert, the capital centre of Nagorno Karabakh where Armenians and the cabinet of ministers, speaker of parliament and foreign minister are residing. However, the Azerbaijani Army retreated later and delegated the region to the Russians.
“These are the main reasons behind opposition to Ilham Aliyev ceasefire accord. More criticisms will follow as the anxiety of victory in war diminishes and people resort to more realism.”
The necessity of attention to the remarks of the leaders of Azerbaijan and Turkey
Seifoddini said such criticism could be important as the conflict has not yet ended, adding that speeches and remarks by the political leaders on the recent development in the Caucasus region especially the remarks in the victory parade in Baku on 10 December 2020 should be examined carefully by the observers particularly in Iran.
He added that Mr. Erdogan said in the December parade that the struggle of their coalition would continue in several political and military fronts.
“This is very important. Ilham Aliyev also referred to such remarks for the second time in recent years that Yerevan and the Zangezur are located near the border between Armenia and Iran are part of the historical territory of Azerbaijan and belonged to its territory in the past. What does it mean?”
Heightened conflict, manifestation of the new territory making of Turkey
He added that such remarks should be examined carefully by the analysts as they open a prospect of the continuation of the war and its spread to the mainland of Armenia or other regions.
“All these are vital for the establishment of peace in the region as the conflict may arise again anytime in the future. The Karabakh region is part of the strategic Mediterranean-China corridor and the pattern of crisis is multilayered. Heightened conflict in October 2020 was in fact a manifestation of the new territory making of Turkey.”
Considerations of the Iranian presence in the reconstruction of the damaged in Karabakh
Referring to the Iranian plan to reconstruct the damage in Karabakh, he said several considerations need to be heeded for the issue of reconstruction and economic presence of other players in this geography.
“First, Iranian reconstruction plans should focus on cities and towns located in the south of liberated areas bordering Iran as costs will be cut for Iranian companies that are located near the border areas and chances of winning bids and tenders would increase.”
He said that an optimistic and a pessimistic scenario should be considered in this connection.
“In the optimistic scenario, Iran will be present in the reconstruction and economy of Karabakh. It is not solely reconstruction. Iranian goods and services could be exported to Karabakh. In agriculture and water, Iran enjoys good capacities which could be exploited by Karabakh; However, the Iranian plan for construction and reconstruction is very important as Iranian companies should be able to compete with counterparts from Turkey, Israel and even the UK in the mining sector.”
Seifoddini said historical structures and especially religious monuments and mosques in this region have incurred serious damaged from the time after Stalin, adding that Iranian experts can repair such damage as Iranian architects are unique especially in repairing mosques.
“Anyway, Iran has voiced readiness in this respect and in the final analysis, economic equations shall be realized by players who made victory in the military front; however, long borders of Iran in this region are a geopolitical reality which could impose itself on other factors.”
Seifoddini said military and security equations should be discussed in three local, regional and global levels if we want to have a long-term approach in the political economy of this region. The remarks of the leaders should be examined carefully and strategies of short-term- medium and long-term investment should be outlined according to the present equations.
“Definitely, there is a new prospect of calculated Iranian investment in these areas which could be exploited properly in the future.”